alexpgp: (Default)
While in New York, I gave in to temptation and picked up a Sansa e260 media player, for a variety of reasons. Chief among them was the fact the unit can be managed (if one is not interested in transferring photos or video, and I'm not) simply by copying media files to the unit (in other words, it doesn't need anything like iTunes). Other reasons included the built-in FM radio and the capability to make voice recordings (not to mention recordings from the radio).

Unfortunately, over the past couple of weeks, I've not been particularly attentive in handling the device, and the unit's screen was starting to show it. Today, in going over some stuff in the closet, I spied a block of "jeweler's rouge" that I acquired while in Marine basic training (I think it cost something like 25¢), and it turns out that by wetting my index finger, I was able to transfer enough rouge to my finger to then proceed to polish the plastic screen on the Sansa.

About 30 seconds later, I used a tissue to wipe the rouge off, and the screen looks about 1000% better.

* * *
I spoke with Natalie earlier today, and heard that she was coming by with Lili. Galina spoke with Natalie earlier today, and swears Natalie said she's coming home with her beau, so we haven't eaten dinner yet.

The suspense is... causing my stomache to growl!

alexpgp: (St. Jerome w/ computer)
Generally, the first thing that pops into one's mind when one wants to complain is... to complain!

And there are many instances when this is the proper, and likely the only, thing to do.

However, complaining is tricky when the entity you're complaining to is a client.

So I basically sit on any such complaints for a good while, which generally ends up with my not delivering them. ("A good while" is, of course, a relative term... I thought about the complaint that prompted this post for perhaps as long as 30 seconds before deciding it wasn't worth pursuing.)

For example, a little while ago, I was thinking of mentioning to my French client that they ought to make sure that source files are properly rendered before sending them to me (here I had in mind yesterday's little imbroglio with the strangely fonted source file), but in the end, rather than convey the idea that I wasn't equipped to handle such glitches, or that I was deveoping into a prima donna freelancer, I deleted the sentence and went on with my life.

What's worse, even completely innocent remarks can sometimes be interpreted as complaints. My most famous instance was the time, early in my translation career, when I wrote, "This was a very challenging document to translate" in an email cover note. I later found out that the project manager took this as me saying that I was in over my head, and for that reason, I lost out on a number of subsequent assignments.

As I said, though, there are exceptions. Some time ago, a client sent an assignment in which over half the pages were handwritten reports by several doctors, mostly illegible. As I was not prepared to spend many hours trying to decipher such scribblings, I did raise the issue with the client, and ultimately, never got the job. But as the issue was raised with full consciousness of the possible loss of work, I have no regrets.

Ho-kay! The translation plate is officially cleared, with all files sent to clients, and I have no upcoming interpretation assignments (though I expect a call this afternoon).

(Actually, that's not the case: I have a 10-page contract to translate for Sunday! But a fella can dream, can't he?)

alexpgp: (Default)
Despite all the nice words said about "paperless" this and "electronic" that, there comes a time where nothing short of printing a file is going to get the job done. And printing is one perennial problem faced by road warriors.

Ages ago, I recall Jerry Pournelle pointing out that, if you were on the road and had a fax modem in your laptop, you could "print" files to your hotel's fax machine pretty easily, a technique that got only better when most hotels began to offer incoming faxes for free, and sweeter still when you could make use of services such as eFax.

The inkjet I bought a couple of years ago and kept at my parents' place probably needs a new set of cartridges, though I am not sure I want to spend $70 or so to find out if my diagnosis is correct. Some time ago, however, my folks did buy a Compaq laptop (long dead) and an HP printer/scanner/fax.

Unfortunately, the HP is equipped with a parallel port and my VAIO... isn't. So, the only alternative I was left with was to send myself the documents that I must translate for Monday morning. (Not to work from directly, but to refer to when working with the OCR that I finally was able to coax out of my machine.)

In other news, one of my new French clients offered more work, which I had to respectfully decline. I despise having to do that... sort of, as the reason for doing so is a plate piled high with stuff due Monday.

alexpgp: (Default)
I was just doing an electronic "rummage" through some document files in PaperPort, when my eye ran across one item, something commonly called an "attaboy," written by one of the ILS managers during a past campaign.

The general rule of thumb for freelancers is: The more 'attaboys', the better. (Heck, the same rule applies to anyone who works, though I suppose women collect 'attagirls'.)

Why are more better? Because the other general rule of thumb is: One screwup cancels 100 attaboys.

The reason I bring this up at all is that during a later campaign, when a different ILS manager was waxing eloquent about what a great job we interpreters were doing, I gently hinted that it would be really cool if he'd put what he'd just said down on paper and give us a copy. He turned his gaze on me, all businesslike now, and said, "You don't need a copy of what I just said," adding that the person who did need it was the ILS interpretation manager back in McLean, who was the person that made campaign assignments. This was, I suppose, his way of assuring us that said manager would be duly informed of our stellar effort. I understood the subject to be closed.

Since then, Lockheed has sold its share in ILS, and some changes have been made at the new ILS. For one thing, U.S.-based interpreters are not being used any more for launch campaigns; for another, in-house staff has been trimmed. Indeed, one of the first people to go was... that very same interpretation manager.



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